Natural gas vehicles are a well-known alternative for efficient and eco-friendly individual mobility and are popular in many European countries. Vehicles like the all-new SKODA OCTAVIA G-TEC due to be released in the second half of 2020 and the already available G TEC versions of the SKODA SCALA and KAMIQ enable immediate CO₂ savings of around 25% compared to a conventional petrol engine, depending on the origin and production method of the gas used. Biomethane and synthetic gas can achieve up to 90-per-cent and full carbon neutrality respectively.
Cleaner combustion and a higher energy content than petrol and diesel are two of the key advantages of compressed natural gas (CNG). In addition, it can be topped up as easily and quickly as conventional fuels at suitably equipped filling stations. With the European network of CNG stations continually expanding, mid-2019 saw Italy in the lead in Europe with close to 1,300 filling stations, ahead of Germany with around 900. The Czech Republic came in third place, followed by Sweden and the Netherlands, all approaching the 200 mark.
The design of the new SKODA G-TEC versions of the SCALA, the KAMIQ and the all-new OCTAVIA generation features larger CNG tanks, with the resulting greater ranges enabling drivers to cover even longer journeys using the more eco-friendly and economical CNG mode for the most part. Meanwhile, additional 9-litre petrol tanks safeguard mobility in regions without CNG filling stations. SKODA AUTO took great pains in development to ensure that the engines will run almost exclusively on natural gas.
In CNG mode, running on natural gas, these cars emit 25% fewer CO₂ emissions than vehicles powered by a conventional petrol engine. When adding a 20% share of bio-CNG, as is currently common in Germany, CO₂ emissions are reduced by as much as 35 to 40%. Using an even higher bio-CNG proportion made from plant residues and biological waste can achieve improvements of up to 90%, approaching carbon neutrality. Full carbon neutrality can be achieved when running on synthetic methane produced from renewable energy using a power-to-gas process. However, this technology is currently still in development.
The all-new SKODA OCTAVIA G-TEC due to be launched in the second half of 2020 has a 1.5-litre four-cylinder TSI engine delivering 96 kW (130 PS), which enables sprightly performance. Its three CNG tanks have a joint capacity of 17.3 kilograms, allowing for a range of up to 480 kilometres in CNG mode.
With the G-TEC variants of the all-new OCTAVIA as well as the SCALA and KAMIQ, SKODA will in future offer a choice of three models designed to run on efficient and eco-friendly compressed natural gas (CNG). These models will follow in the second half of 2020.
Compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles produce hardly any nitrogen oxides (NOx) and enable an instant reduction in CO₂ emissions of around 25 per cent or even significantly more, compared to cars with conventional internal-combustion engines. In the interview below, Philip Paul, CNG expert and Head of SKODA SUV Product Marketing, explains the benefits and technical details of CNG engines.
What role will natural gas (CNG) play in SKODA’s fuel/energy mix over the coming years?
Philip Paul: Even though electric mobility will be the leading technology over the next few years, CNG technology is set to make an important, additional contribution to reducing CO₂ emissions. It’s cleaner, with fuel costs lower than those of conventional internal-combustion engines, but, most importantly, it is effective and available today. In addition, natural gas burns nearly without particles. Even when using gas from natural deposits, CO₂ reductions are up to 25 per cent lower than with petrol. Adding 20 per cent of biomethane, as is currently done in Germany, for instance, makes for even greater CO₂ reductions of 35 to 40 per cent. And once you start using 100 per cent biomethane from plant material or even synthetic methane produced from renewable energy, the SKODA G-TEC models can actually achieve carbon neutrality.
On the other hand, Volkswagen board members have recently said that they want to move away from CNG engines and will stop developing this technology. How can those two views be reconciled?
Paul: There is no contradiction between the current range of CNG models and these statements on long-term development. The automotive industry engages in very long-range planning, with strategies designed for as much as a decade ahead. Therefore, CNG engines will continue to be a part of the range over the coming years. At SKODA, this also includes the recently launched G-TEC versions of the SCALA, KAMIQ and the natural gas variant of the new OCTAVIA, which will soon be launched in the first markets.
Does it make a difference whether a SKODA G-TEC vehicle is powered by natural gas, biomethane or synthetic methane?
Paul: To the vehicle or the customer it makes no difference at all, but it makes a big difference to the environment. Biomethane and synthetic methane, also known as e-gas, are so-called drop-in energy sources which can be added to natural gas in any combination. There is no need for technical modifications to the engine or the vehicle. Biomethane manufactured entirely from plant residues or biological waste and using renewable energy is already available today and on offer at filling stations. It enables drivers to reduce their CO₂ emissions by a significant amount. Synthetic methane, produced from solar or wind energy, has a similar potential. However, the end product isn’t commercially viable yet and thus only available in smaller quantities.
Unlike petrol or diesel, CNG has to be stored in the vehicle under high pressure. How does this affect safety?
Paul: Our natural gas vehicles are just as safe as comparable models with conventional internal-combustion engines. The CNG tanks installed in the SKODA G-TEC models are engineered, produced and certified to meet the highest industry standards. They are fitted with a safety valve which, in the unlikely event of a technical problem, ensures that the gas is released in a controlled manner. CNG is non-toxic and lighter than air, so it dissipates quickly. In addition, all the CNG tank components are designed to withstand extreme conditions. The pressure inside the tank is around 200 bar. However, these tanks are designed and approved for pressures up to 600 bar, which is three times what they usually encounter in practice.
Why do G-TEC engines still have to use petrol in certain situations?
Paul: This is usually only required for a very short time during cold starts and immediately after refuelling. Our top priority in development has always been that the engine should run almost exclusively on natural gas. Even when outside temperatures drop to –10 °C, a warm engine can be started in CNG mode, and drivers can also use the Stop/Start feature without any issues. There is a persistent myth that very low temperatures below freezing could cause problems for natural gas. But for CNG to liquefy inside its tank, the temperature would have to drop below –160 °C according to the laws of physics. In other words: even in the winter season, natural gas is an excellent all-round fuel.
Redexis and Cepsa have opened their first refuelling station for natural gas vehicles (NGV), within the framework of the strategic agreement announced last June, by which both companies committed to creating the largest natural gas station network in Spain.
The new natural gas station, which is already in service, has a gas pump capable of supplying liquefied natural gas (LNG) to all types of heavy vehicles, in a refuelling time of between 3 and 6 minutes.
The facility is located at exit 649 of the Autovía del Mediterráneo (A-7), passing through Puerto Lumbreras (Murcia). It is a strategic point for the transport of goods, through which 5,000 to 8,000 heavy vehicles circulate every day, since it is the main communication route between Barcelona and Algeciras.
Redexis has invested around €1 million to construct the natural gas refuelling station, which is also expected to start offering compressed natural gas (CNG) for light vehicles in the coming months.
Belén Mateo, director of Franchise and Direct Management of Cepsa Service Stations, highlighted: “At Cepsa we want to offer our clients all the energy solutions they require by diversifying our offer. Today we begin to realize our objective of promoting the largest gas mobility network in Spain, for both light and heavy transport, and continue to make progress in the energy transition.”
For his part, Javier Migoya, director of Tertiary and Industrial Expansion (B2B) of Redexis, has valued: “From Redexis we celebrate the start-up of this first gas station together with Cepsa, which means continuing to promote the energy infrastructures necessary for professionals and citizens, have more economical, sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility solutions. From Redexis we continue to advance in our firm commitment to promote natural gas as a real alternative for sustainable mobility.”
Cepsa and Redexis are working on the opening of twenty CNG refuelling stations that will be built and put into operation throughout 2020, and which will involve an investment of around €15 million.
In June 2019, Redexis and Cepsa agreed to create the largest network of LNG and CNG refuelling stations in Spain, with the aim of expanding the supply of energy solutions and promoting sustainable mobility. In this agreement, Redexis promised to make an investment of 30 million euros in the 2019-2021 period to undertake the construction and maintenance of 50 gas stations located in Cepsa Service Stations, whose supply and marketing will be handled by Cepsa. In the following two years, this alliance plans to reach 80 supply facilities, with a total investment of 60 million euros.
The Natural & bio Gas Vehicle Association (NGVA Europe) released statistics and numbers about gas vehicle registrations and fuelling station development in 2019.
Numbers not only show continuously growing sales of compressed natural gas (CNG) and especially liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuelled vehicles, but also growth of corresponding fuelling infrastructure.
While there are 50% more LNG stations in Europe compared to 2018, LNG powered heavy-duty vehicle registrations nearly tripled since the same year. At the same time, after the first quarter 2019, where new vehicles were not available on the market due to the WLTP homologation process, passenger car registrations are at a new height.
NGVA Europe Secretary General Andrea Gerini commented: “These numbers confirm the ever-growing attraction of natural gas mobility for European consumers. This is the result of a mature gas vehicle technology with high engine efficiency and performance, widespread infrastructure and low total cost of ownership (TCO), but also great environmental benefits of gas in transport.”
Natural gas infrastructure and vehicles are fully compatible with renewable gas and therefore potent enabler of carbon-neutral mobility. Today, the usage of natural gas is the most cost-effective way to start a concrete path to decarbonisation across the multiple dimensions of the transport sector.
Source: NGVA Europe
Powered by biomethane, a compressed natural gas (CNG), the 20 strong fleet will help to radically cut Liverpool City Council’s carbon footprint. Producing 80% fewer carbon emissions and 90% less Nitrogen Oxide than the previous diesel vehicles, each new wagon will cover more than 150,000 miles a year.
The vehicles each have a Mercedes-Benz Econic chassis with Faun Zoeller Variopress body, a load capacity of up to 10.5 tonnes and a rear steering axle to easily manoeuvre narrow streets. The new CNG vehicles are part of a drive to improve the collection and recycling of household waste across the city to help reach a target of recycling more than 55% of waste.
A CNG station has been installed at LSSL’s refuse collection depot and the new vehicles, reportedly, cost 35% less in fuel, compared to diesel vehicles. According to recent government statistics, the city has already achieved an 18% reduction in carbon emissions since 2012 and is on course to hit 35% by the end of 2020.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “This investment in a new fleet of refuse vehicles is a great statement of intent in our goal to make Liverpool a cleaner and greener city. The council inherited a tired and run down fleet which was inefficient, unreliable and costly. Having a brand-new refuse fleet that is bigger, more efficient and safer gives our collection teams the right tools to ensure residents receive a more reliable service.’’
Faun Zoeller Commercial Director, Stewart Gregory, said: “Liverpool City Council, and Liverpool Street Scene Services are a valued client to FAUN Zoeller. We have enjoyed an excellent relationship with the team at Liverpool over a number of years, and to have been able to assist in the integration of CNG into the fleet has been a valuable experience.”
Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment and Sustainability, Cllr Laura Robertson-Collins, said: “It is vital that we improve the air quality across our city. As a council we will do all we can to move away from the use of diesel and other fuels that compromise health, within our own vehicle fleet.”
Gas Networks Ireland has entered into an agreement with Applegreen to develop two publicly accessible, fast-fill compressed natural gas (CNG) stations in Portlaoise and in Tipperary. The two stations will be strategically located along the M7 motorway, accessible from both directions of travel, with one at Applegreen’s forecourt in Midway, Portlaoise at exit 17 and the other located at junction 27 at Applegreen’s premises in Birdhill, Co. Tipperary, with other sites currently under discussion.
Part of the Causeway Project, this investment worth over €2m, will allow businesses to reduce transport costs and emissions. Construction on the project will get underway this summer with both stations expected to be in operation by the end of 2020.
Gas Networks Ireland, is leading the delivery of the Causeway Project. This project is supported by a grant from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility Transport Fund and the Gas Innovation Fund, approved by the CRU. Research is being co-funded and conducted by our project partner, the National University of Ireland Galway.
CNG is a proven alternative to diesel or petrol which reduces transport costs by up to 25% and reduces carbon emissions. CNG is natural gas which has been compressed to fit into a natural gas vehicle’s (NGV) tank and is particularly suitable for use in commercial vehicles. There are an estimated 25 million NGVs in operation worldwide, and almost two million in Europe. In the future, these vehicles can achieve zero carbon transport when operating on renewable gas.
CNG for transport is one of the key gas technologies set out in Gas Networks Ireland’s Vision 2050 published last year which outlines how it can reduce Ireland’s total carbon emissions by one third and create a net zero carbon gas network.
Declan O’Sullivan, Programme Delivery Manager with Gas Networks Ireland said; “Working with Applegreen to deliver two more publicly accessible CNG refuelling stations is another milestone in our efforts to develop a clean fuel option for Ireland’s commercial fleet transport sector. With the first public CNG station in Dublin Port operational, the second public CNG station constructed and another seven public CNG stations currently being developed, Ireland’s HGV and bus operators can now choose a cleaner fuel alternative.
Dáire Nolan, Managing Director for Applegreen Ireland added; “We are delighted to announce the development of two publicly-accessible, fast-fill CNG stations through our partnership with Gas Networks Ireland. We are very proud to offer Ireland’s commercial fleet operators a cleaner and more cost-effective fuel alternative.”
Source: Gas Networks Ireland
The Nordic gas filling stations network is expanding as Gasum opens its 9th gas filling station in Sweden. The station is the first one in Umeå and serves both heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) and passenger cars. It is also an important part of Gasum’s plan to build a network of 50 gas filling stations for HDVs by the early 2020s in the Nordics. The growing network opens further opportunities to answer to the increased demand for low emission road transport.
The new gas filling station is in an area with heavy traffic where fuel consumption is high and the need for clean fuel solutions is rising rapidly. The inauguration of Umeå’s first gas filling station takes place on February 5. The station serves both HDVs and passenger cars: HDVs can fill up on liquefied biogas (LBG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG), while compressed natural gas (CNG) and biogas (CBG) are suitable for passenger cars, delivery vehicles, waste management vehicles and buses.
“As the gas station network expands, gas becomes available to more actors in the transport sector, which in turn increases the demand for gas. At the end of last year, we opened a new gas station in Östersund, which together with the Umeå station enables gas-fuelled vehicles to be used across Sweden,” says Mikael Antonsson, Director of Traffic at Gasum Sweden.
The increasing amount of new stations is a key factor in reducing emissions, particularly in the long-haul road transport segment. Heavy-duty transport currently accounts for up to 30% of Europe’s CO2 emissions from road transport. According to the new emission standards passed by the EU in 2019, greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) are to be reduced by 30% by 2030. The national target in Sweden is to reduce road transport emissions by 70% by 2030, as compared to 2010 levels.
SEUR expands its ecological fleet in its service of super urgent deliveries in one or two hours SEUR Now, in the Spanish cities of Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia with the incorporation of 82 Volkswagen Caddy vans powered by natural gas.
These additions are added to the rest of the ecological fleet that the company has, and which currently accounts for 5.5% of the total. In addition, it is a clear example of how the company is committed to sustainability and improving efficiency in smart urban distribution.
The new SEUR Now vehicles allow a 27% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to a diesel vehicle of the same characteristics, which means a saving of 373 kg of CO2 per vehicle per month.
In addition, air quality in cities affects the quality of life and natural gas is one of the fuels that reduces the emission of pollutants that affect health to almost zero: it reduces nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) by 85%, and eliminates 96% of PM solid particle emissions, in addition to halving noise pollution.
Marc Bayo, Director of SEUR Now, has pointed out that “with the growth of ecommerce we have not only gone from delivering packages to thousands of homes every day, but we have also managed to anticipate one of the main demands of online shoppers: I buy it and I want it now. Therefore, our goal is to meet increasingly shorter delivery times and do so with sustainable resources that complies with urban legislation that safeguards the environment.”
The number of natural gas vehicles in Finland broke the 10,000 mark last year. This growth illustrates how well natural gas vehicles meet the vehicle needs of consumers and enterprises alike as an inexpensive and low-emission alternative. An increasing number of natural gas heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) were also taken into use during 2019.
The popularity of natural gas vehicles is continuing its growth in Finland. According to the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom, the number of natural gas car and van registrations during 2019 exceeded 4,000, which is almost twice the number seen in 2018. Of these, new registrations amounted to around 2,200. The most popular makes among the first registrations were SKODA (1,111), SEAT (595) and Volkswagen (332). There were more natural gas cars than fully electric cars registered last year.
“The first registrations of new cars in Finland dropped by 5.2% year on year, but at the same time the registrations of gas cars increased by 84%. This shows that a segment of consumers and enterprises has discovered gas-fuelled vehicles. Awareness of this inexpensive and environmentally friendly vehicle alternative has also increased,” says Heidi Kuoppala, Business Manager, Traffic, Gasum. “The Finnish Government has set the target of introducing 50,000 gas vehicles on Finland’s roads by 2030. At the moment we’re ahead of this ambitious target and, with the right steering instruments put in place, the target can be reached considerably ahead of schedule, which would mean significant cuts in transport emissions.”
Steps towards zero emissions were also taken in logistics: a larger number of natural gas traction units and other HDVs were registered in 2019 than in previous years. According to Scania statistics, almost 4% of the HDVs sold by the company were powered by natural gas. In addition, according to the Transport Barometer of Finnish Transport and Logistics SKAL, 26% of transport enterprises are interested in choosing environmentally friendly natural gas and biogas.
Gasum continued to expand its gas filling station network in Finland and Sweden during 2019. The growing filling station network also serving heavy-duty transport enabled the introduction of more and more natural gas-powered traction units on the roads. Gasum will continue to respond to the growing demand for natural gas by expanding its filling station network even further. Last year also saw the expansion of the station network to entirely new regions in Oulu and Seinäjoki, Finland. Gasum currently has 34 stations in Finland and eight stations in Sweden for various vehicle categories.
Redexis and Fiat Professional will collaborate to promote sustainable mobility through the promotion of compressed natural gas (CNG). Fernando Bergasa, president of Redexis, and Alberto de Aza, CEO of FCA Spain and Portugal, today signed an agreement whereby the two companies commit to the development and promotion of sustainable mobility through the promotion of natural gas vehicles (NGV), thus reaffirming its commitment to environmental sustainability.
Through this agreement, Fiat will promote CNG vehicles in its dealerships with the aim of extending its purchase and use, and will also share with Redexis information on the demand for this type of vehicles and on agreements to promote the installation of charging points with public access, in those areas close to the points of sale of the vehicles and that are considered of special relevance. Within the framework of this agreement, Redexis will develop the CNG loading facilities necessary to meet this demand for land mobility.
Fernando Bergasa, president of Redexis, said that “our goal is to continue building and developing the necessary infrastructure to promote more sustainable, economic and environmentally friendly alternative fuels in our country. That is why we expect to have more than 100 CNG stations nationwide in the next two years.”
The CEO of FCA Spain and Portugal, Alberto de Aza, stressed: “This agreement undoubtedly represents an important boost to the commitment that Fiat Professional has been making for more than 10 years on alternative energy vehicles thanks to the union of strengths of 2 leading companies in their respective sectors: Redexis, as a leading company in the development of Natural Gas Vehicular infrastructure, and Fiat Professional, which with its “Natural Power” range offers the most complete solution in the Commercial Vehicles market Light as far as the use of this type of energy is concerned.”
According to Gasnam’s registration data in Spain, and taking into account the current growth rate, the potential of vehicles powered by natural gas in Spain could exceed one million cars before 2030.